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  • Anaerobic digestion is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen, used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste and/or to release energy.
  • Anaerobic digestion technology is a powerful tool for managing organic farm waste, particularly cow, swine and chicken
    manure. In addition to reducing waste volume and odor, however, the process also yields energy in the form of methane, or biogas.
  • Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a microbiological process that occurs naturally in the environment, for example in
    lagoons or in the stomach of ruminants.
  • Under anaerobic conditions, organic materials are biodegraded through a complex microbiological process leading to the production of a more stabilized organic material and biogas with high methane content.


  • The digestion process begins with bacterial hydrolysis of the input materials in order to break down insoluble organic
    polymers such as carbohydrate and make them available for other bacteria. Acidogenic bacteria then convert the sugars and amino acids into carbon dioxide, hydrogen,  ammonia, and organic acids. Acetogenic bacteria then convert these resulting organic acids into acetic acid, along with additional ammonia, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. Finally, methanogens convert these products to methane and carbon dioxide.
  • AD equipment consists, in simple terms, of a heated digester tank, a gasholder to store the biogas, and a gas-burning engine/generator set, if electricity is to be produced.
  • The digestion process takes place in a warmed, sealed airless container (the digester), which creates the ideal conditions for the bacteria to ferment the organic material in oxygenfree conditions.
  • The digestion tank needs to be warmed and mixed thoroughly to create the ideal conditions for the bacteria to convert organic matter into biogas (a mixture of carbon dioxide, methane and small amounts of other gases).


  • In 2010, digesters produced the equivalent of approximately 453 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy, enough to supply more than 25,000 average American homes for a year.
  • The use of household biogas is most widespread in Asia.
    In China, over 15 million households use biogas, and successful programmes have been established in Nepal and Vietnam.
  • In Sichuan Province alone, 2.58 million domestic biogas
    plants had been constructed by the end of 2004.This number will be increased to 5 million by the end of 2010.
  • EPA estimates that 157 digester projects are operating on commercial scale livestock facilities nationwide - July 2010

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